George W. Bodwell (1821-1877)

Son of: Zadok 1773

George was a trooper in the Michigan calvary unit that captured Jefferson Davis in 1865. George, age 40 of Vandalia, Michigan, enlisted in Company "I", 4th Michigan Cavalry at Dowagiac, Michigan on August 11, 1862, mustering in on August 29, 1862. He served with the regiment for the balance of the war, mustering out at Nashville, Tennessee on July 1, 1865. Lt. Col. Pritchard of the 4th hand picked 150 men of the 4th to capture Jefferson Davis, then reported to be in the area. Capturing him as ordered, Lt. Col. Pritchard with 22 men escorted him as a POW to Washington, D.C.

The following article is from the Boston Evening Record, Wednesday, Jan 1, 1904:

Buried in a Lawrence Cemetery, Lawrence, Jan 1, 1904.

In Bellevue Cemetery this city near the GAR lot is the grave of George Bodwell, one of the 2 soldiers who captured Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy. On Memorial day his grave was visited by the veterans and decorated as is the custom.. Bodwell belonged to the well-known Bodwell family, prominent in this section a generation ago. He enlisted from a western state early in the civil war, when Richmond fell in 1865 Bodwell was in a troop of Cavalry stationed near that city. When news was received that Jefferson had escaped Bodwell and a fellow trooper were detailed to hunt him up and capture him at any cost. The men soon got on his trail and followed Davis into Georgia, where they arrested him dressed as a woman. It is related by local GAR men that Bodwell suspected the person in woman's garb, and after a close watch the wind blew the skirts and on one of the feet of the suspect was seen a spurred boot. Then it was that Davis was pounced upon by Bodwell and his companion and placed under Arrest. Congress granted Bodwell an award of money for the capture of Davis. At the close of the war Bodwell came here, where he died in 1872. He left 2 sons, Asa Bodwell of Haverhill and Charles Bodwell, and 2 daughters , Mrs. William Stevens and Mrs. Swain Chick of Boston. (Transcript of this article courtesy of Henry Hassell, Amelia, Virginia)

The following is Shelby Foote's account of the capture of Jefferson Davis "The Civil War", pp.1009-1010:

"Outside in the twilight, seated with their backs against the boles of trees around the campfire, his aides waited for word to mount up and resume the journey. They too were weary, and lately they had been doubtful-especially during the two days spent off-course because of Davis's concern for the safety of this wife and children-whether they would make it out of Georgia. But now, within seventy miles of the Florida border, they felt much better about their chances, having come to believe that Breckinridge, when he peeled off near Washington with the five brigades, had decoyed the Federals onto his track and off theirs. In any case, the President's horse was saddled and waiting, too, ready to move on. They sat up late, then finally, receiving no call dozed off: unaware that, even as they slept and dawn began to glimmer through the pines, two regiments of Union cavalry-4th Michigan and 1st Wisconsin, tipped off oat Hawkinsville that the rebel leader and his party had left Abbeville that morning , headed for Irwinville, forty-odd miles away-were closing in from opposite sides of the camp, one having circled it in the darkness to come up from the south, while the other bore down from the northwest. The result, as the two mounted units converged, was the last armed clash east of the Mississippi. Moreover, by way of a further distinction, all the combatants wore blue, including the two killed and four wounded in the rapid-fire exchange. "A sharp fight ensued, both parties exhibiting the greatest determination," James Wilson presently would report., not without a touch of pride in his men's aggressiveness, even when they were matched against each other. "Fifteen minutes elapsed before the mistake was discovered."

All was confusion in the night drowsed bivouac. Wakened like the others by the sudden uproar on the fringes of the camp-he had lain down, fully dressed, in expectation of leaving before midnight, but had slept through from exhaustion-Davis presumed the attackers were butternut marauders. "I will go out and see if I can't stop the firing," he told his wife. "Surely I will have some authority with Confederates." When he lifted the tent flap, however, he saw high-booted figures, their uniforms dark in the pearly glow before sunrise, dodging through the woods across the creek and along the road on this side. "Federal cavalry are upon us!" he exclaimed. Terrified, Varina urged him to flee while there was time. He hesitated, then took up a lightweight sleeveless raincoat-which he supposed was his own but was his wife's, cut from the same material-and started out, drawing it on along with a shawl she threw over his head and shoulders. Before he ad gone twenty paces a Union trooper rode up (Bodwell?), carbine at the ready, and ordered him to halt. Davis paused, dropping the coat and shawl, and then came on again directly toward the trooper in his path. "I expected , if he fired, he would miss me," he later explained, "and my intention was in that event to put my hand under his foot, tumble him off on the other side, spring into his saddle, and attempt to escape." It was a trick he had learned from the Indians, back in his early army days, and it might have worked except for his wife, who, seeing the soldier draw a deliberate bead on the slim grey form advancing point-blank on him, rushed forward with a cry and threw her arms around her husband's neck. With that, all chance for a getaway was gone; Davis now could not risk his life without also risking hers, and presently other bule-clad troopers came riding up, all with their carbines leveled at him and Varina, who still clung to him. "God's will be done," he said in a low voice as he turned away and walked slowly past the tent to take a seat on a fallen tree beside the campfire."





5 Nov 1821

25 Jul 1872

10 Sep 1852

Rhoda Eaton

Methuen, Ma

North Andover, Ma

Newburyport, Ma

b. ABT 1833

Children of George and Rhoda (Eaton) Bodwell


Birth Date

Birth Place

Death Date

Death Place


Georgie A.

ABT 1854

Lawrence, Ma

AFT 1910



Elizabeth M.

ABT 1855

Bristol, Mi

AFT 1891



Asa M.

Feb 1857


AFT 1920



Charles Henry

10 Jun 1860

South Bend, In

22 Mar 1933

Lynn, Ma


Charlotte M.

ABT 1862

Vandalia, Mi




3 Aug 1865

Vandalia, Mi

AFT 1920



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